Bethelhem Dejene Abebe is the Co-founder and CEO of Zafree Papers, a company that is introducing a 100% tree-free paper pulp made from agricultural waste. Based in Ethiopia, Bethelhem’s company, Zafree makes pulp, paper and paper products 100% free from trees by using agricultural waste as an input instead of wood. The company operates in two African countries, Ethiopia and Zambia, following a Pan-African Business model aiming to duplicate Zafree in different African countries.
In 2019, Bethelhem was among the 2,100 African entrepreneurs selected to benefit from the TEF-UNDP Entrepreneurship Programme, where she received $5,000 seed capital, mentorship and the TEF business training on entrepreneurship. She has also been financed by the Development Bank of Ethiopia which enabled her to procure land in Debre Berhan’s industrial park for her soon to be built factory specially purposed for her innovative business process.
Her company deals directly with over 8,000 smallholder farmers, with customers across the continent.